“Dancing is the highest intelligence in the freest body” spoken by Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), an icon of innovative, communicative movement. Husband/wife directors, Angelin Preljocaj and Valerie Muller have presciently adapted Bastien Vives’s novel into a visual homage; the transformation of a spirited, precocious, classically trained ballerina into a contemporary, avant garde interpreter of movement; a translation of the soul into tangible reality. The film soars with the performances of Veronika Zhovnytska as young Polina, excelling through grueling auditions, attaining entrance to the ballet school, whose ultimate goal is admittance to the Bolshoi ranks; truly ethereal, Anastasia Shevtsova (a Marinsky graduate) is the adult dancer, falling in love with a French performer, following him to Paris, subsequently pirouetting from one city to another in search of her expressive style. The film looses some of its zest in the quest, but rallies with the discovery of a street dancer who potently opens the doors to Polina’s viability, unearthing her true, unique interpretation of life, living, suffering; bar fights, running down naked streets, loneliness and love lead to an awareness that breaks the bonds of her classical training, lending beauty and credence to the final duet and Polina’s fulfillment.
Ultimately, also in the words of Isadora Duncan, “dance is the movement of the universe concentrated in an individual”. “Polina” grasps the wonderment, flight and fancy of the medium.